Styling binds : U.S. Latina women and intimate labor at a beauty salon in Austin, Texas

Rodríguez Rocha, Vivian Deidre
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This thesis locates the significance of Pretty & Groomed, a Spanish-speaking hair salon in south Austin, in the lives of the immigrant community that has emerged around it. The lively salon owned by Sara, an immigrant woman from Mexico, is often used by clients and stylists for a variety of purposes that go beyond styling; clients network, offer goods and other services for sale, share common anxieties about life after migration, get personal and styling advice from the operators, find help in preparing special events such as bautizos and quinceañeras, or simply have a family outing. Through in-depth interviews with thirteen women, including clients, the stylists and the owner of the salon, I explore the role of Pretty & Groomed, as a transnational Latin American space, which contributes to the recreation of U.S. Spanish-speaking immigrant cultures. Focusing on stylists’ embodiment of their work, and clients’ salongoing practices, I use intimate labor theory to complicate narratives of salon-going through the lenses of race, gender and consumption. Ultimately, I position styling in the ethnic beauty parlor as a form of reproductive labor for this Spanish-speaking community of immigrants settled in south Austin, and I offer a view of the hair salon as a political and politicized site.